Changes occurring in the immune system of ageing humans (the ‘immunosenescence’) have huge consequences on health, but their exact nature and underlying mechanisms are still largely unknown. Some important manifestations of immunosenescence are evident as an increased susceptibility to infection, reduced responses to vaccination, and a persistent state of low-level inflammation, as well as a greater tendency toward autoimmunity. While this immune dysfunction is age-related, it is also highly variable between individuals who may develop features of senescence at different rates and hence at different ages.
Here we are working to define the extent to which immunosenescence comprises changes in levels of specific immune cell types or molecules, or functional competence of cells, and to detect genetic and non genetic factors that drive these changes. The ImmunoAgeing project is designed to better understand the mechanisms and pathways of immunosenescence as the basis for preventing or alleviating the pathological effects of immunosenescence in the immune system of the elderly.